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Follow Your Passions to a Meaningful Career

Throughout the pandemic, there has been a great deal of upheaval in the job market. With millions of people rethinking how they work and live—and how to better balance the two—we’ve seen hordes of workers changing careers or jobs. From income stagnation and precarious job security to burnout and dissatisfaction with their role, there are a number of factors that have contributed to the “Great Resignation”.

However, there are some sectors that have only been growing with more job openings than qualified job seekers—and technology is one of them.

According to research, the cybersecurity industry has a critical need for talented workers and is in fact short 2.7 million people worldwide.

Growing up, I never imagined that I would pursue a career in technology. My parents worked in computer programming and although I had access to computers from a young age, I didn’t intend to follow their example. However, a winding journey led me into a meaningful career as a full-stack software developer working in cybersecurity. It’s something I am proud of and genuinely enjoy.

My path certainly wasn’t direct. At college, I met people pursuing computer science and they all seemed to be whiz-kids who were programming before middle school. Since that didn’t correspond with my experience, I opted for a business program as it seemed much less technical and I thought it would hold opportunities more suited to my skill set.

While attending college, I worked in a variety of industries, trying as many roles as possible to get a sense of what I liked and wanted to do long-term. I held jobs in construction, customer service, and even payroll administration but nothing really felt right. I was almost through my business diploma when I decided to take an elective in computer programming and it changed everything.

Where my other courses didn’t always motivate me, this programming class was extremely engaging and more importantly, I enjoyed it. This translated to spending extra time on all my assignments simply because it was fun. As a result, I came in at the top of my class and discovered I had more in common with my classmates than I thought.

That was a wake-up call for me. Even as I finished my business diploma, I knew that my next step would be to pursue computer science. I enrolled at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) for Computer Systems Technology (CST). This two-year, accelerated and intensive program was perfectly suited to my learning style with more opportunities for problem-solving and hands-on application and little memorization and testing.

The program was hard work, but it felt more manageable than the business program because I loved what I was doing and when I completed it, I was ready for the workforce.

Finding that right career fit by uncovering what you’re passionate about can take time and it did with me. In fact, you could say I spent my time discovering what I wasn’t passionate about. But when I found computer programming, everything clicked into place. I found a great job working with Fortinet. Now, I am in the process of finishing a CST Bachelor of Technology with a double specialization in Network Security Applications Development and Network Security Administration.

And I still love it. It feels less like work and more like a hobby I enjoy. You really can’t beat that.

If I could offer advice to those looking to pursue a new career path, I would tell them to take the time to try things out. Explore different opportunities and learn as much as possible until you discover what you truly enjoy.

I would also encourage people to be brave and test their limits. I let misconceptions about the field turn into fears that computer programming would be too technical for me but I was wrong. The combination of natural interest and good training was all I needed to excel.

While I enrolled in formal education to course-correct my career path, there are many other ways to learn—including free online resources such as Fortinet’s NSE Training Institute courses, which are designed to make cyber learning available to everyone. If any of this sounds appealing to you, I’d recommend checking it out. You may be surprised at what you learn about the field of cybersecurity, and about yourself.

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